When a Friend Reads Your Blog

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I’ve pointed people here to my blog every now and then over the past year… since it has existed. I don’t really follow my stats all that much, and even if I did, I don’t have a way of knowing who reads any given post. But I do know if someone has subscribed to my blog using “Follow via Email”, because I can see that person’s address in my e-mail followers list. There are e-mail addresses in that list that belong to people I don’t know… addresses I don’t recognize. But, there are also some I do know. I’m always so blessed and delighted when a friend’s e-mail pops up as new to that list.

Here is why. There are two reasons I write here about Anysia and/or life after Ansyia. Actually, there are three reasons. But the first one is something I want to write more about in a separate, unrelated post. It has to do with the quote on the cover of a journal that my friend Heather bought for me. It says, “We write to taste life twice…” ~Anaïs Nin

For this post, though, I’ll just point out the other two reasons, touching more on the second of the two.

One reason is to tell my story… and Anysia’s too. Our story, really. Of each one in this family of four. It’s one I want to tell whether another soul reads it or not. It’s one I want to document and preserve for my son who’s still with us and hopefully will be well into adulthood… something he might want to know about what life was like while his sister was here, our lives afterward, and all that he knows fully now, but might not recollect some day, just as I can not recollect much from those early years.

The other reason I’m blogging is somewhat very much connected to something I read today… this article… which my counselor shared with me. It’s such a good article… not only relatable for any parents {especially moms} who have lost a baby, but applicable as much to any type of loss… yet so much more poignant regarding the subject of baby loss because of all the additional taboo that surrounds death of a babies and talking about those babies… or not talking about them???

This article is not just wonderful for a mom who’s known baby loss, but perfect for a mom who has reached a stage that I have. It’s a rather weird transition stage, you might say. I’m not wearing the proverbial black mourning garb anymore… neither am I cloistered away in my home like I was for much of the first half of the first year of living post-loss. But I’m not “healed” or “home” or “out of the woods”. I’m not whole or without grief. Yet, to most, I’m just like any other mom… especially to anyone who does not know I’ve endured this loss.

If you are interested in what I’m saying, and if click over to any page that I link to on this blog, make it the article I linked to above. If you want to get what I am about and where I am at… not with everyone, but with some, not in every circle, but in some… then reading this woman’s account of her grief in this article is a good place to start. The person who wrote the article… I give her so much praise {or rather, I’m grateful to her} for having courage to say the words that so many of us feel but don’t know how to express. In fact, so many of the very words she wrote, I tried to express to a friend in a very long e-mail not all that long ago. It was one in which I poured out my heart about getting back out there socially… what is expected of me in grief and what is realistic. It was an e-mail in which I hoped to have a conversation and hoped to be heard, but hoped to hear feedback as well. My letter was met with silence… which speaks very much to the entire point of this article.

Anyway, these are some words in the article that stood out the most to me…
“…gives me a place to share our memories and an understanding place to rest when being quiet is exhausting.”

That is what this blog is for me… a place to share our memories and an understanding place to rest when being quiet is exhausting.

I know the writer was actually referring to community as being that “place” where she can share, specifically community amongst other grieving moms who know and understand her pain and loss and can easily identify with it. To many, it’s known as the Baby Loss Community. But, to be honest, outside of some genuine, nurturing and helpful online connections {excluding the ones that I found to actually feel more closed off than open}, I’ve had little community with the baby loss world. It’s not for lack of trying. I’m actually curious if there are others out there that have felt this too. And I wonder if it left them feeling as isolated as it left me… here we are hoping for that connection among people who would understand, but it feels very individual… something devastating to sense when you crave the connection terribly because you can’t find it in the “real world” {in non-baby-loss-land} due to the taboo that surrounds a loss like yours. There have been many times where I cried in anguish because I had no idea where I belonged after such a loss… where I could safely talk about my loss without any sort of judgement or preconceived notions. I’ve found that kind of safety in a few close connections, both from women who lost babies {I mentioned two of them a couple posts back} and from friends who have never known a loss like mine, but have still withstood the test that my grief put our friendship through.

I’ve also found it in counseling… where not only can I share about every aspect of my grief and every area it touches in my life, but I can lament about the lack of places to grieve openly with true, deep connection… which is the reason she thought to send me this article in the first place.

There is yet one more place I can go where I don’t have to hide or say too much or not enough. Where I can say what I want, whenever I want, however I need to, and I’ll not have wondering {or worse, wandering}, awkward eyes on me… eyes of a person who either does not know what to say or is judging my inability to grieve in what they perceive is the right way, which is as varied from person to person as the moms who lose babies are. A place where there are no eyes that tell me I should be grieving more gracefully… or more privately… or less privately… or with more “spirituality”… or with less “spirituality”… or more neatly and with less complication… or more quickly… or less quickly…

That place I can go is this blog. It is why I blog here. It is why I write with words and pictures.

But here is the point I’d hoped to make originally. In a strange new world I’ve been thrust into, where I am so often misunderstood in my role of Mom to Anysia, bearer of loss, there are some friends who have chosen to follow me here. I don’t mean that in the typical social media sense of the word {or term} that describes an ever-changing number meant to denote one’s popularity. I don’t mean it like “WordPress Followers”… or “Facebook Followers”… or “Instagram Followers”… or any other kind of “Followers”. What I mean is, they got up from their spots of not grieving {or a place of having once known a similar grief… one dear friend who follows my blog by e-mail also lost a baby shortly after he was born}, and they followed me—are following me—in my journey of grieving and pain. And they did so right here. If it would have been a physical journey on a tangible path, they’d have walked behind me, close enough to be available when needed, but with a kind and patient distance they created for me. But instead, it’s a virtual journey they’ve chosen to go on, not too far from my side.

One of those friends, Aimee, is the one who had breakfast with me on Anysia’s birthday, so she quite literally joins me in this journey… but she’s following my blog as well… a humbling thing to know, actually.

But the friend I sat down to write about tonight is Shalice. I was so honored the day that I saw her e-mail address added to the list of e-mail subscribers of this blog. Not because my number of followers went up. But rather, because I realized that a friend was going to walk with me here… a place for which its existence I’ve never kept hidden… a place I want to share, be known and seen in, and a place where Anysia would be known and seen, too.

Those who know me best know that this girl and I were fast friends, and that we’ve been friends for quite a while. But what they might not know is just how much she means to me. She was there when Anysia was born. That is huge. But as much as I can celebrate that part of her and that kind of commitment to a deep and longstanding friendship, I can equally celebrate that it did not end there. She kept on that very tough path of being a friend to one who grieves… a very, at times, messy and complicated grief. She’s listened to probably some of the strangest and most unfamiliar words she’s ever heard or read by taking my sobbing phone calls and reading my long confusing e-mails in grief. And yet, she is still here. Not just a facebook connection or e-mail contact or number in my phone. Not just a genuine heart-felt card-sending friend. She’s walking with me in my pain… right here on this blog.

What means the most is that I hadn’t even really known how much she’s been following me here. I mean, there is her address that I see in my e-mail followers list which tells me she’s getting my posts. But she’s a busy woman… running a thriving business, raising four kids and homeschooling two of them. And she cooks like a rock star, even though she would never admit it… but every single time I go to her home… well, I just eat her food while I ask myself why can’t I do what she does and makes look so easy and taste so delicious?

All that to say, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had no time to read what I write. And I’m sure there are times when she can’t, but catches up when she has a window and opportunity, just as I do with some of the blogs of friends that I follow, or as they do with mine.

But she does read. And I have proof…

Never once did I tell her about a book I’ve been wanting to read {pictured above}… not in person, nor in a private conversation online. Yet, it arrived in the mail today… from her. It was wrapped in pretty Christmas paper, but it was a gift for me and for ministering to me through this stage I’m in… living with loss one year out.

I never mentioned it to her. I had, however, mentioned the book in a blog post not too long ago. It was in one of my Taking Stock posts, under the “Wanting…” category. It’s called Every Bitter Thing is Sweet. And she knew, from my post, that I had wanted to read it as a source of comfort during such a time as this.

Here is a quote from the book that I had posted on facebook a while back… “The question of pain, it’s buried deep in my bones. It is my story, though I’ve barely traveled the circumference that others have not even to the half. But God wants me to know the nearness of Him in response to the deepest questions of my story, the kind of nearness that, when realized, heals.” ~Sara Hagerty, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet

I had read that quote somewhere last November and realized this might be a great book for me. The subtitle of the book led me to that realization, too… “Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things”

Well, Anysia’s birthday came and went. And I never got around to purchasing the book like I’d hoped… which I’m glad about in retrospect, because I’d have had two copies {although giving a copy away to another grieving person would not have been such a bad thing}. I’m just delighted it all happened this way. I’m glad that, instead of me buying a copy, it was given by a friend and proof that there is one {among others} who is walking this journey with me via my words here… seeing all that I hope for, long for, wait for, want and need, and all that I try to cultivate.

It was a little conversation we had… and oh, how I love conversations. I started it by saying in this space that I would love to have the book. I was revealing a hope of mine to anyone who happened to be reading, but it became a conversation between two people when she personally laid eyes on my words.

Then she spoke back… with her pocket-book and the effort it takes to overnight a package while raising four young kids at the busiest time of year, saying, “I’d like you to have it too. I’m buying it for you, because I read you. I hear you. I see you.” All that said, in one tiny little wrapped package.

She did mention that she popped something in the mail for me when she e-mailed me yesterday. But she had not said what it would be. I truly did not expect it to be this book. And I can’t even describe how much it warmed me to receive it. To be seen. To be heard. To be thought of… with specific detail.

Of course, I could have written an entire post based on a false premise that she bought this book for me as a result of reading my original post about it. There’s a chance I could call her tomorrow to thank her for it, only to find out that she had no idea I’d been wanting the book, but had been told about it by another friend and thought it sounded like something I might want to read. Ha! If that is the case, I’ll be somewhat disappointed that I stayed up late to write this post!

But then again, not really. She’s still on my subscribers list, and so I still know she a friend who’s chosen to walk down a path in this space I’ve revealed to her, and thereby invited her to… a place I told her I’d be grieving out loud in.

And the way I see it, whatever God wants to do to get that book in my hands, I’ll take it! If it’s here now, but the way it came is entirely different from how I romanticized it, oh well… it’s still here, and now among a pretty great stack of other wonderful books for a grieving mama to have.

And all my words, expressions and forms of living out {or through} a loss are still reaching her InBox. Even the two-thousand-something I’ve written so far tonight.

In this fast-paced world where we only have time for short sound bites and there is little time or effort invested in long, meaningful conversations of any kind, it means the world to have someone enter into the still-slow {but gradually growing} pace of your life after loss, and the most prominent place you choose to live it out.

What a blessing when a friend reads your blog… and has a conversation of any form with you about what’s revealed there.

What a blessing when a friend reads your blog… because she then knows your heart, and you know she’s interested in knowing it.

What a blessing because, in truth, it’s just not as easy out there as it is in here. And if no one visited this space, it might seem lonely in here, too. I like to think that this blog—one I started for the almost-sole purpose of processing loss and grief—is the perfect place to transition back into a world I’ve long been distanced from… one talked about in the article I mentioned earlier… and one where exchanges occur.

That’s why, tonight, I am writing with gratitude about it…

When a friend reads your blog.

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